Webinars 101


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Webinars 101

  1. 1. Panel DiscussionNovember 13, 2008Webinars 101Executive SummaryModerator: Jesica Witte KRMPanelists: David G. Barry Managing Editor Dow Jones Financial Information Services Robin Feldman Director of Online Education Council for Advancement and Support of Education Angelia Herrin Executive Director of Business Development Harvard Business Publishing Jamie Sadler Senior Manager of Online Learning ASAE & The Center for Association Leadership Executive Summary produced for KRM by
  2. 2. KRM Virtual Seminar November 13, 2008 Webinars 101Webinars 101 Moderator: Jesica Whitte, Moderator, KRM Panelists: David Barry, Managing Editor, Dow Jones Financial Information Services Robin Feldman, Director of Online Education, Council for Advancement and Support of Education Angelia Herrin, Executive Director of Business Development, Harvard Business Publishing Jamie E. Sadler, Senior Manager of Online Learning, American Society of Association Executives Those with experience conducting webinars have seenOverview great acceptance of this medium.Webinars are a valuable component of an overall communication, For these organizations, webinars have become a key part ofeducation, and event strategy. They complement in-person events their offerings. Their members or customers see value in them.and provide numerous benefits: they have great reach, are efficient, The positive reception and ready acceptance are based on:are interactive, enable group learning, and provide valuable infor- ⎯ The efficiency of webinars. Participants see webinars as amation on timely and relevant subjects. highly efficient way to learn and stay current on important subjects. No travel is required, participating is easy and con-The organizations represented in this webinar are having great venient, and a participant can gain great knowledge in just 60success with webinars and shared best practices in key areas such or 90 minutes, making it an extremely efficient experience.as selecting topics, pricing, marketing, and conducting webinars. ⎯ Shared organizational learning. Teams and organizations can learn together. Multiple people can convene in a conferenceContext room, be exposed to the same information, and discuss how this information applies to their organization.This panel of experienced webinar producers addressed the keyconcerns by those considering webinars. They shared tips on how “Our webinars are conversation starters in com-to effectively plan, promote, and deliver events. panies; they facilitate learning by the entire group.” ⎯ Angelia HerrinAn audience poll (which demonstrated the interactive capabilities ofthis medium) indicated that those on the call are concerned about: ⎯ The appeal to all generations and personalities. Webinarsthe pricing and value of webinars; the acceptance of webinars by offer something for everyone. Participants from Generation Ytheir target audience and/or speakers; marketing and promoting like the interactive capabilities, particularly the ability to typeevents; selecting and training speakers; and getting started, which questions to the speaker. Baby boomers like the ability to beincludes topic selection, scheduling, and vendor selection. part of a “conversation” with the speaker.Key Takeaways Getting started requires making decisions in areas like topics, day of the week, length, and vendor. Webinars are complementary to in-person events. Putting on webinars isn’t difficult; it involves some homework, Jamie Sadler confessed that she was initially skeptical regarding planning, and a few decisions. These include: webinars, preferring in-person events. But that is no longer true. ⎯ The topic and speaker. A poll showed that 88% of participants Her organization has seen great benefits conducting webinars in believe a hot topic draws better than a big-name speaker. Ms. addition to in-person events. In-person events facilitate great Herrin said a best case is a webinar on a hot topic delivered networking and aren’t going away. Robin Feldman sees webinars by a big name. She defined a hot topic as a subject where as providing a great vehicle for delivering important content and people “need to know how to solve a problem at work.” information. She believes that if webinars are priced and marketed correctly, they won’t cannibalize in-person events. ⎯ The day. The panelists agreed there is not one day of the week that is best. Data indicates that Tuesdays are most David Barry sees webinars as a “piece of the puzzle.” Not all common, but the most appropriate day can vary by audience people go to conferences; webinars provide a different way to and industry. Ms. Sadler indicated she avoids Monday, but reach them. And, webinars can be arranged quickly to commu- believes any other day works well. Her organization holds nicate on a timely subject. He gave an example of a significant webinars on the third Wednesday of every month, which development that was of interest to his audience. His organiza- provides consistency and lets people plan in advance. She tion wanted to hold a discussion on this subject but their next has also seen webinars on Friday afternoons work quite well. conference was three months away. A webinar was arranged ⎯ The time. The panelists usually hold their events in middle of on very short timing. the day. This enables people on both coasts to participate. Holding webinars over lunch provides an opportunity for “We see audio seminars as complementary groups to eat and learn together. [to in-person events].” ⎯ David Berry ⎯ The length. The panelists see a range of 60 to 90 minutes. This can be based on the subject matter, industry, and price. Summary created for KRM by: Page 1
  3. 3. KRM Virtual Seminar November 13, 2008 Webinars 101⎯ The vendor. The panelists encouraged organizations to think In addition to charging attendees, Mr. Barry’s organization has about what aspects of conducting a webinar they do and don’t done some sponsored webinars. In these instances, the events want to do (such as registration). When an organization has a have looked quite different, so that attendees can differentiate. sense of what services it is looking for, it needs to research the options that are available. Also, the panelists are seeing increased interest in purchasing CDs of webinars. This is coming from individuals with interest in Ms. Feldman suggested looking at features, capabilities, and a subject who aren’t able to attend the webinar. The panelists are customer service (not just price). She suggested listening in pricing the CDs similar to the webinar and are using CDs to gen- on webinars of various vendors to see how they are conduc- erate additional revenue. CD sales can have “long tails”; 81% of ted and recommended getting references and peer feedback. attendees don’t see CDs sales as hurting registration. Panelists Mr. Barry advised looking for vendors that have considerable said that since they charge the same amount, they are indifferent experience as you don’t want to encounter any surprises. regarding whether a person attends the webinar or buys the CD.These organizations are marketing their webinars in a “Maximize your revenue. Don’t leave money on thevariety of way, particularly email blasts. table.”The panelists are marketing their webinars on their websites, ⎯ Jesica Whittethrough online or offline calendars, at conferences, throughadvertisements in print publications, through newsletters (both Training speakers to deliver a great webinar isn’t difficultprint and online), and through various types of cross promotions. but takes a bit of preparation.They agreed that the most important way to market a webinar is Most seasoned speakers have participated in webinars and havevia email. Panelists typically conduct two or three email blasts. a sense for how they work; speaking on a webinar is somewhatThe first is often four to six weeks prior to the webinar; the is of a badge of honor. Still, it makes sense to prepare speakerssecond about two weeks prior; and often a final reminder during regarding:the week before the event. ⎯ The technology. The technology for webinars is simple and flexible. Speakers can be anywhere in the world. Nonethe- “The best way to market an online event is online.” less, it makes sense to connect with them in advance to ⎯ Robin Feldman coach them on the technology, let them practice a bit, and answer all questions. (Nothing hurts a webinar more than aThe content of these emails usually focuses on the hot topic, the speaker who is not well-versed in the technology.)speaker, and the benefits of the webinar. For potential attendeeswho have never participated in a webinar, these organizations ⎯ The overall experience. Speaking on a webinar is differentare continually encouraging people to “give it a try.” They are than speaking at a conference. The speaker can’t see thereiterating the convenience, efficiency, interactivity, and ability to audience, can’t feel their energy, and can’t see if they areengage in a conversation with an expert on a salient topic. engaged or bored. It is important to prepare speakers to deal with this environment. The keys to making the webinar a great “We really emphasize the benefit of ‘register one, experience include making the event highly conversational. and get as many people to attend as possible.’” ⎯ Jamie E. Sadler “Our speakers are very experienced. Our biggest challenge is making the webinar into more of a conversation between the speaker, the moderator,These organizations are pricing their webinars (and CDs) to and the audience.”produce attractive revenues while still delivering great value. ⎯ Angelia HerrinThe decision on whether and how much to charge varies for eachorganization based on its objectives. These panelists all favor ⎯ The content. Help the speaker understand who the audiencecharging for their webinars. Ms. Feldman said that “free is a is and be comfortable delivering the content and messages toproblem” as it creates expectations of receiving services for free this audience. For most speakers, a solid grasp of the contentand creates a low perceived value. Paid events are seen by the is rarely the issue; the challenges are in conveying thepanelists as more credible than sponsored events. content in a conversational way.These organizations generally charge $250 to $400 per webinar, When a webinar involves multiple speakers, preparation time iswith differences in member/non-member prices of $45 to $100. beneficial to plan for the flow of the conversation and to prepareThe panelists see these prices as low enough to be affordable each person for what sorts of questions they can expect to get.but high enough to convey a good perceived value. In settingprices, organizations are encouraged to look at competitive web-inars and to compare the webinar’s price to other organizationalevents to ensure consistency. In communicating about pricing,Ms. Feldman suggested stressing the value of the content andthe investment in professional development. Summary created for KRM by: Page 2
  4. 4. KRM Virtual Seminar November 13, 2008 Webinars 101 BiographiesDavid Barry Angelia HerrinManaging Editor, Dow Jones Financial Information Services Executive Director of Business Development, Harvard Business PublishingDavid G. Barry is a managing editor with Dow Jones FinancialInformation Services, which produces products under the Private Angelia Herrin is executive director of business development atEquity Analyst, VentureWire, and VentureSource brands. Dave Harvard Business Publishing. At Harvard Business Publishing,oversees content development for the array of conferences and Herrin oversaw the re-launch of the management newsletter lineaudio seminars done under those brands. He also has been and established the conference and virtual seminar division forinvolved in the creation and production of a series of newsletters, Harvard Business Publishing. More recently, she created a newreports, and directories. Dave previously spent time as a reporter series to deliver customized programs and products towith the San Jose Business Journal and as an editor with the organizations and associations.Boston Business Journal. Prior to coming to Harvard Business Publishing, Herrin was the viceRobin Feldman president for content at womenConnect.com, a Web site focusedDirector of Online Education, Council for Advancement and on women business owners and executives.Support of Education (CASE) Herrin’s journalism experience spans twenty years, primarily withIn November of 2007, Robin Feldman was promoted to the position Knight-Ridder newspapers and USA TODAY. At Knight-Ridder, sheof director of online education at the Council for Advancement and covered Congress, as well as the 1988 presidential elections. AtSupport of Education. She began working at CASE in January 2006 USA TODAY, she worked as Washington editor, heading the 1996as an educational programs manager. In her current position, Robin election coverage. She won the John S. Knight Fellowship inmanages 20 or more online seminars annually on a wide variety of Professional Journalism at Stanford University in 1989-90.educational advancement topics geared to both broad and targetedaudiences. Robin has spent her entire career recruiting and Jamie E. Sadlermanaging volunteer speakers, academic scholars, and book Senior Manager of Online Learning, American Society ofauthors. Association Executives (ASAE)Robin holds a BA in Liberal Arts from the State University of New Throughout her career, Jamie Sadler has focused on education andYork at Purchase and a MBA from the University of Massachusetts professional development as a senior learning manager. Since herat Amherst. career with ASAE began in 2001, she served as the manager of professional development for 6 months and as the director of learning experiences for nearly 5 years, where she specialized in developing innovative adult learning opportunities, developing curriculum for certificate courses, and working with diverse groups of people to design and deliver more than 100 programs each year. Currently senior manager of online learning, she manages ASAE & The Center’s virtual programming, facilitating online courses, and working with volunteers and staff to enhance the design and experience of CenterU Online programming. Jamie holds a Master of Arts degree in communication and a Bachelor of Behavior Science in communication with a minor in psychology. Summary created for KRM by: Page 3